GAIL RE-FLOATS $7 BILLION TENDER TO HIRE LNG SHIPS
State gas utility GAIL India has re-invited bids to hire nine newly-built LNG ships on modified terms that allow Indian shipyards to pick up to 13 per cent stake in three of these carriers that shipbuilders have to make in the country.
After postponing the deadline thrice, GAIL had in February scrapped the $7 billion tender to hire nine LNG carriers to ferry gas from the US, with a caveat that three of them be made in India. At that time no foreign shipyard was willing to share LNG shipbuilding technology.
Negotiations that followed saw Korean shipbuilders Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering agreeing to cooperate with Cochin Shipyard, L&T Shipbuilding and Pipapav Shipyard respectively.
Following this, GAIL re-floated the tender for charter hiring of nine ships quoted in three lots of three ships each. One ship in each lot is be built at an Indian shipyard.
The tender document provides for Indian shipyard taking 5 per cent to 13 per cent in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier that it will build. This condition was not there in the original tender floated last year.
Also, GAIL has a right to take up to 10 per cent equity stake in any or all of the nine ships. Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), which is to operate the carriers, will have a right to 26 per cent interest, according to the document.
GAIL and SCI had last year signed an agreement wherein the state-owned shipping company has the step-in right to take at least a 26 per cent stake in each of the nine LNG carriers hired by GAIL.
GAIL plans to time charter, or hire, the carriers for 18 years from fleet owners. Overseas shipyards have been given time till May 31, 2019 to deliver their ships while those built at Indian shipyards are to be delivered between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, the tender document said.
GAIL had in August last year floated a global tender to charter nine newly-built ships for transportation of up to 5.8 million tons per annum of LNG from the US.
The tender, however, required bidders to build one-third of the ships in India, a condition that found no takers.
It first postponed the last date of bidding from October 30 to December 4, then to January 6 and February 17. It then cancelled the tender. The tender was refloated after Korean shipyards entered into pacts with Indian shipbuilders. The technical collaborations were necessary because none of the Indian yards have built LNG carriers before.
GAIL said it has a 20-year gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA) with Sabine Pass Liquefaction Llc, a unit of Cheniere Energy Partners LP in the US, for 3.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG. Also it has a terminal service agreement for 2.3 million tons a year LNG liquefaction capacity with Dominion Cove Point LNG in the US. In addition, it has a 20-year LNG supply contract for 2.5 million tons with Gazprom Marketing and Trading Ltd.